(This guest post is by my close friend Taha Raja, a businessman in Houston, Texas. Before I moved to Wisconsin this summer, Taha and I attended the same masjid in Katy, TX as part of the Houston Dawoodi Bohra community. This is a sequel of sorts to Part I, from last year.)
The first ten days of Shehrullah-El-Moazzam (Ramadhan) have now past and we are on the second set of ten days. Last year, I posted a story when I had just left my position at Symantec and was seeking for a new business. Since then I have bought a new business, went for Haj and made several changes in my life. Here we are a year later and I feel revitalized and energized more than ever before.
This year Ramadhan has started with a certain sense of change in the air. My life has taken a complete turn and I feel the ship has finally started to sail in the direction I want. There is a sense of inner peace and satisfaction and a renewal of spiritual recogniztion that there is more than the daily rat race that we all get caught up in.
This year the Anjuman-E-Shujaee of Houston has created many improvements to the celebrations for its members. To begin with, a new Mawaid (Jamat Khana) facilities were built on the adjacent land recently acquired. This Mawaid has provided badly needed space for the fast growing Jamaat. In addition, due to Daylight Savings Time, we are taking advantage of the extended evening hours to do some additional events prior to Maghrib Namaaz. Let me share with you a typical Houston Sheruallah day for me.
The day begins with Sehri at around 5AM. Usually some light snack with juice water and hot tea. After my sehri, I usually rest for another 30 min before Fajr Namaaz. After namaaz, its time to go to the business. My business is located around 18 miles in heavy traffic. During Ramadhan, I take advantage of this rush hour traffic by playing Quraan MP3 files of Juz Amma for memorization. It is my goal to memorize from Surat Al-Nas to Surat Al-Balad by end of Ramadhan, Inshallah.
At around 4:30PM, I start heading back home to prepare and go to Masjid for Maghrib Namaaz. Again the Quraan MP3 helps me traverse the traffic and helps the memorization of the Surats. After reaching home, I usually get ready quickly and head back out to the Masjid. My family has already left for Masjid earlier since the kids go there for further Quraan recitation and practice.
When you enter the Masjid complex, you are greeted by volunteers who kindly give you your Iftari Packet. This packet consists of some cookies and Khajoor (dates). As you enter the masjid and receive the iftari packets, you hear the serene sound of Tartil recitation of Quraan by experts from Al-Jamea-Tus-Saifiya! This is a pleasant sound as all the worldly headaches of work, traffic, and other hassels melt away. You truly feel at peace! Its a mediatative expereince for me.
The Quraan recitiation is followed by a short bayaan (sermon) by AamilSaheb (head priest). Usually on a practical topics of Ramadhan and other General Ale-Mohammed Ilm (Knowledge). After this, there is a short Matam Session in rememberence of Imam Husain (AS). By this time Maghrib is here. Azaan is recited by someone from the general public who has given his name in consideration for giving Azaan once this month. Competion is heavy for this sharaf (honor). As the Azaan is recited, silence around the masjid and the anticipation of Maghrib Namaz and Iftari of a long day of Rozu (fasting) is at hand.
After Namaaz, a short Dua asking Allah for forgiveness (Alahuma Haza Shere Ramadhan - Dua that Aziz has talked about in the earlier posts) is recited. Everyone perks up as the Namak (salt) is passed around to break the fast along with the dates given earlier.
Everyone hussels and bussles to eat and drink the cookies, tea and/or milk. People have short converasations as you get a chance to truly be with friends and family reminiscing the day and taking the barakaat of Ramadhan. After short break, Sunat and Ishaa Namaaz are recited.
The Masjid is energized and packed to the gills by the end of Maghrib Namaz. Almost 800 people attend on a daily basis. This is a great festival and time to do ibadaat. Men, Women and Children from all backgrounds come together to do ibadaat under the same roof. It is a unique and joyful experience.
After Ishaa Namaaz, the Masjid empties out to go to the new Mawaid. Here the sumptuous evening meal is being served in Thaals. The barakaat of eating together with friends and family during ramadhan is endless. It is a blessing that I cannot begin to describe. We all eat with modesty and humilty as we accept this gift of Aqa Mola Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) and the joy of ending one more day of Sherullah under the saya (roof) of Ale Mohammed and amongst friends and family. This is where the rat race ends! This is what we enjoy and this at the end of day is the meaning of barakaat!
May Allah bless us every day to celebrate and do Shukur of what we have received and what we are about to get from his boudless treasures. May Allah bless us all who take advantage of His bounties during this month of Ramadhan. May Allah Ta'ala bless us all during this month and may He provide us the guidance and wisdom to make choices that allow us to show Him that we are worthy of His bessings.